Every year, my mother’s entire extended family descends on our home for the annual Channukah celebrations. We’re a big group—what originally began as “just” the descendents of my grandma Bubsy and my grandpa Nuit is now a gathering of over 50 people, including their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
And like most Jewish holidays, the occasion is also an excuse for a feast: Whitefish, lox (which is not the same as smoked salmon), bagels (and all the fixings—which includes capers!), hummus, tabbouleh, and an enormous salad (with homemade dressing, of course). We used to do latkes, but we’ve abandoned them so that no one spends the whole day in front of the stove (and so the entire house doesn’t smell like a frying station).
Truth be told, I can do without the latkes—we all usually get our fix on one of the other eight nights. But there was one thing I do miss, that my mother used to make for years: A big batch of Mollie Katzen’s Hungarian Mushroom Soup. From The New Moosewood Cookbook, this is a beautiful soup that I crave during the winter months. It’s creamy and tangy, with a tiny bit of heat from the paprika. My mother used to make multiple batches of this recipe and then keep it warm on a hotplate during the parties.
The best, of course, was the day after the party. I would creep down to the fridge, ladle some of the glop into a bowl, and pop it into the microwave. Always better the next day.